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Origin not entirely certain. However, most historians believe that it is onomatopoeia for the sound a blimp makes when thumped. Although there is some disagreement among historians, credit for coining the term is usually given to Lt. A.D. Conningham of the British Royal Navy in 1915.

There is an often repeated, but false, alternative explanation for the term. The erroneous story is that at some time in the early 20th century, the United States military had two classes for airships: Type A-rigid and Type B-limp, hence “blimp”. In fact, A. D. Topping reports on the “Etymology of ‘Blimp’”, in the AAHS Journal, Winter 1963, that:

“there was no American ‘A-class’ of airships as such—all military aircraft, heavier or lighter-than-air were designated with ‘A’ until the appearance of B-class airships in May 1917. There was an American B airship—but there seems to be no record of any official designation of non-rigids as ‘limp’. Further, according to the Oxford Dictionary, the first appearance of the word in print was in 1916, in England, a year before the first B-class airship.”



blimp (plural blimps)

  1. (aviation) An airship constructed with a non-rigid lifting agent container.
    • 2004 February 16&23, The New Yorker:
      The Goodyear blimp over Giants Stadium
  2. (by extension) Any large airborne inflatable.
  3. (slang) An obese person.
  4. A person similar to the cartoon character Colonel Blimp; a pompous, reactionary British man.
  5. (film, television) A soundproof cover for a video camera.
    Synonym: barney
    • 2015, Peter W. Rea, ‎David K. Irving, Producing and Directing the Short Film and Video (page 209)
      You can create your own blimp or barney with anything that will deaden the camera noise, such as a changing bag, foam rubber, []



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blimp (third-person singular simple present blimps, present participle blimping, simple past and past participle blimped)

  1. (slang, intransitive) To expand like a blimp or balloon; to become fat.
    After college, she started blimping and could no longer wear her favorite little black dress.
    Over a few years the software had blimped into typical bloatware.
  2. (transitive) To fit (a video camera) with a soundproof cover.

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